Have you still got any old banknotes and coins?

There are 109 million old £1 coins still in circulation and more than £28bn in old notes.
old £20 notes

How many old notes and coins are still in circulation?

A BBC Wales investigation has found that a staggering £28bn of old-style banknotes are still out there. Though the old £20 and £50 notes can still be used until September 2022, the non-plastic fivers and tenners stopped being accepted in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

I’d expect the majority of the £20 notes still sitting in wallets is because as a country we’ve not been spending much cash in the last 18 months! And to be fair to anyone with an old £50, the new note featuring Alan Turing has only been available since June.

But there are a huge number of £5 and £10 notes that really should have been spent or swapped. The breakdown of notes was:

  • 114 million £5 notes
  • 76 million £10 notes
  • 510 million £20 notes
  • 341 million £50 notes

And there are coins too. The current pound coin, with its many sides, two colours and other anti-counterfeiting measures has been around since May 2017. The old round coin stopped being accepted in shops six months later.

At the time there were thought to be 500 million of the old coins in circulation, so the fact that four and a half years on there are still 109 million out there is surprising. There’s a good chance many of them are lost forever, but a huge chunk of that £109 million pounds has to be just sitting in our homes.

What to do if you have an old £1 coin

If you find an old quid, you won’t be able to use it any shops or businesses. And you won’t be able to exchange them for the new pound coins either.

But you will be able to pay them into accounts at banks, building societies. If you don’t have your bank near you, or it’s someone like Monzo or First Direct with no branch, then you can also deposit old round pounds at the Post Office.

So if you track any down, then simply pop into your branch with your bank card and get it added to your balance. There’s a chance your bank could have a minimum number of coins to make a deposit

Before you do that, it’s worth a quick check on somewhere like eBay that you don’t have a rare version which could be worth a few quid more – though do take into account the fees you’ll have to pay if you do try to sell it.

What to do with old £5 and £10 notes

Some banks will take notes too and pay them into your account. If they don’t accept it you can take it or send it via the post to the Bank Of England in London for a swap.

What to do with old £20 and £50 notes

It’s much easier here – you can just spend them! They will remain usable for another year. From 1 October 2022 you’ll be able to deposit them or swap them in the same way you can now for fivers and tenners.

Where to look for old coins and notes

If you haven’t checked for the old coins or notes, here are a few of the less obvious places you might have forgotten to check.

Your kid’s room

Soon after the old coins stopped being legal tender, my then seven-year old niece shared she had a small pot full of them that she was saving. In the end it turned out my dad (her granddad) had already switched them over to the new version. Great. But it shows that if you’ve got kids with a money box or small purse they could be hoarding some old coins.

Winter clothes and bags

If you change your wardrobe with the seasons, then there will be some clothes – particularly coats – you’ve not used for six or more months. Check the pockets and check the bottom of bags.

And thanks to the pandemic this could mean you’ve got money in pockets that haven’t been used in a year and a half.

Occasional use bags

A bit like the winter clothes, you might have bags you rarely use. It could be a posh handbag or a small one for weddings and nights out. You might have a sports or gym bag that’s not been used all summer. Basically anything you’ve not used for a while but you might put cash in it!

Random change jars

We’ve got a couple of these at home and I tend to forget they are even there. Since I hate having loose change I tend to empty my wallet whenever I get some. This is usually onto random surfaces, which my wife then moves into a jar. It’s mainly pennies, but you could have a pound or two buried within.

coin jar
One of our random coin jars – no £1 coins, new or old, but plenty of coppers!

Your glove compartment

Though most car parks are going cashless, you might have a few quid hidden in the glove compartment.


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